Cajun Field expansion, upgrades on schedule

Advocate staff photo by BRYAN TUCK -- Workers install the bleacher seating in the south end zone of Cajun Field Tuesday in Lafayette. Members of the media toured the new section of the field for the first time Tuesday.

Louisiana-Lafayette Athletic Director Scott Farmer gave the wood table under his lectern a solid knock Tuesday morning as he addressed media members gathered to see the new-look Cajun Field. “We’re five days away from the football team reporting and 32 days away from kickoff of the 2014 season,” Farmer said. “So it’s here. I hope you’re ready.” Yes, the construction is coming along as planned, and the stadium should be ready to… Continue reading →

Tulane picked to finish ninth in the AAC

NEWPORT, R.I. — Tulane may be coming off its best season in more than a decade. But that didn’t garner the Green Wave much regard when it came to predicting how it will fare in the school’s inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference. A 30-person media panel tabbed Tulane to finish in ninth-place tie with Connecticut, one spot out of the bottom, occupied by Tulsa, the Wave’s opening-game opponent on Aug. 28.… Continue reading →

Four downs: American Athletic Conference media days

The AAC won the Fiesta Bowl and both the men’s and women’s basketball championships last season, but the fact is, it’s not a power conference on the same level with the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12. The AAC will at least attempt not to be left behind. One big plus — no other conference matches Newport as a media days site. It’s a great draw for those the league wants… Continue reading →

AAC notes: UCF’s George O’Leary should feel at home in Ireland

Advocate file photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- Tulane linebacker Nico Marley sacks East Carolina Pirates quarterback Shane Carden as cornerback Jordan Batiste closes in during their Oct. 12 game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Green Wave won 36-33.

NEWPORT, R.I. — When you’re name is O’Leary, could there be anything better then opening your season in Ireland? That’s what Central Florida coach George O’Leary is savoring as his Knights meet Penn State on Aug. 30 in Dublin’s Croke Park, which seats 83,000 for Gaelic football. “My family is from South County Cork,” O’Leary said Tuesday. “So we should find out how many of them there actually are.” The game came about… Continue reading →

CFP semifinalists, bowl bids likely still controversial

Associated Press photo -- College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock speaks during the Big 12 Conference media days in Dallas on July 22.

NEWPORT, R.I. — While most of the attention to the College Football Playoff has rightfully been centered on the process for selecting the four semifinalists, there’s a lesser-known prize that was of great interest here Tuesday. That’s the berth for the highest-ranked conference champion out of the Group of Five (American, Mountain West, Conference USA, MAC and Sun Belt) in one of the three access bowls (Peach, Cotton or Fiesta). It’s what we… Continue reading →

Tulane picked to finish tied for 9th in AAC

Tulane Green Wave cornerback Jordan Sullen (22) celebrates after intercepting a pass against Tulsa in the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

NEWPORT, R.I. – Tulane’s first bowl season in 11 years isn’t doing the Green Wave too much good when it comes to predictions about how it will do in its first season in the American Athletic Conference. A poll of 30 media members covering the conference schools has Tulane tied with Connecticut for ninth place in the 11-team league. That’s one spot above Tulsa, which the Wave plays in its season opener on Aug. 28.… Continue reading →

Clambake kicks off AAC gathering for Wave

Photo by Tulane sports informationTulane coach Curtis Johnson, left, enjoys his dinner at a seaside clambake that launched the American Athletic Conference’s Media Days on Monday in Newport, R.I. Seated next to Johnson, from left, are safety Darion Monroe, safety Sam Schofield, cornerback Lorenzo Doss, assistant sports information director Brian Miller, Athletic Director Rick Dickson and tackle Sean Donnelly.

NEWPORT, R.I. — Before they dug into the renowned seaside clambake that launched the American Athletic Conference’s Media Days on Monday, the players were reminded how a few years back one of their prominent peers consumed so much lobster — It’s called a clambake, but any crustacean short of crawfish is liable to find itself atop the seaweed covering of heated stones — that he was unable to participate in the interview sessions the following day.… Continue reading →

American Athletic Conference football capsules

Central Florida COACH: George O’Leary PLAYERS: DB Clayton Geathers, WR Rannell Hall, LB Terrance Plummer, OT Torrian Wilson. EASY TO ANSWER: The defense will be good. The Knights were 17th nationally in points allowed last year (21.3 per game) and return eight starters on that side of the ball, led by Plummer and cornerback Jacoby Glenn, both first-team all-conference performers. TOUGH TO SAY: When you lose the No. 1 quarterback in the draft and have no… Continue reading →

Five questions in the American Athletic Conference

Q: Is the AAC No. 1 in the Group of Five? It’s not much of a consolation for the remnants of the Big East plus all of the transfers from Conference USA, but for now being considered the “best of the rest” league is the American’s No. 1 goal. It’s between the AAC and the Mountain West, but there aren’t a lot of head-to-head match ups to go by — Boise State at UConn and Tulsa at Colorado State… Continue reading →

Turf being installed at Tulane’s new stadium

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKERConstruction on Yulman Stadium earlier this year on the Tulane campus.

The actual field in Tulane’s “Home Field Advantage” can sometimes get overlooked. On Monday, it took center stage. Crews began laying the artificial turf at Yulman Stadium, the start of a two-week process, according to Vince Granito, Tulane’s Associate Athletic Director for Internal Operations. “All of the turf gets rolled out on the big rolls from wall to wall of the stadium, and those are seamed together,” Granito said. “Then they’ll cut in the numbers and the logos, hashmarks… Continue reading →

ULM to open practice Tuesday; Tech quarterback rejoins team

MONROE — The Louisiana-Monroe football team reports to campus Tuesday and the team will open fall camp Wednesday in preparation for its season opener against Wake Forest. Fall camp will be open to Warhawks fans; however, but videoing of practices will not be allowed. ULM opens the season Thursday, Aug. 28 at home against the Demon Deacons. The game is slated to kick off at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.… Continue reading →

Former La. Tech standout Paul Millsap invited to Team USA camp

Associated Press file photo by TODD KIRKLAND -- Atlanta's Paul Millsap, a former Louisiana Tech standout, drives in front of Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem last season in Atlanta.

Paul Millsap, a former Louisiana Tech and now Atlanta Hawks standout, has long been one of the more underappreciated players in the NBA, a do-it-all forward who has toiled in anonymity while playing in Utah and Atlanta. Now he’s going to get a chance to really make a name for himself with Team USA. Millsap was invited to Team USA’s training camp Sunday, with chairman Jerry Colangelo hoping the Hawks forward’s versatility… Continue reading →

Sun Belt commissioner expresses faith in ‘Power 5’

Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson speaks during the Sun Belt media day in New Orleans, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo)

NEW ORLEANS — The Sun Belt Conference’s 11 institutions are prepared to pay more to remain part of major college football, Commissioner Karl Benson said. In his state-of-the-conference address during the league’s annual media day, Benson also expressed optimism that the five wealthiest conferences — often called the “power five” — would not insist on new rules which would unduly marginalize the other five NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision conferences. “We’ve shown that the competitive… Continue reading →

Mickles: Coach Ron Roberts, Lions enjoy being the favorite

Advocate file photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Southeastern running back Rasheed Harrell races toward the goal line during last year's FCS playoff game against Sam Houston State at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond.

LAKE CHARLES — One year ago, Southeastern Louisiana University football coach Ron Roberts came to Southland Conference media day with a team that was flying well under the radar. Coming off a 5-6 record in 2012, Roberts’ first season at the school after a highly successful five-year stay at Delta State, SLU was picked to finish fifth by the league’s coaches and fourth by the sports information directors in what was then an eight-team conference.… Continue reading →

Nicholls coach Charlie Stubbs now seeing multiple QBs as a strength

Advocate file photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Nicholls State coach Charlie Stubbs flips through his playbook during a game at Southeastern Louisiana in 2013.

LAKE CHARLES — Nicholls State coach Charlie Stubbs had more bad luck than he could have imagined during last season. Take, for example, his situation at quarterback. Kalen Henderson, then a junior, had compiled 260 total yards at Oregon and seemed ready to take over as the starter after battling for the job throughout preseason camp. In his next start against FBS opponent Western Michigan, Henderson came out red-hot, completing eight of 11 passes for 159… Continue reading →

Four downs: Southland Conference media days

After having eight football-playing schools in 2013, the Southland Conference will welcome three new members this fall. Houston Baptist will be eligible for SLC honors this season, but Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word will have to wait until at least 2017 to be fully eligible. All 11 schools will play eight league games — one more than last season — before going to a nine-game conference slate in 2015. Southeastern… Continue reading →

Southland notes: McNeese State counting on transfer Daniel Sams to ease load

McNeese State coach Matt Viator (AP file Photo/L.G. Patterson)

LAKE CHARLES — Finishing with a 10-3 record is a difficult task to replicate in consecutive years, and it will only be more difficult for McNeese State coach Matt Viator now that his primary weapon is gone. Cody Stroud, McNeese’s former quarterback, lit up opposing defenses last season when he threw for 2,935 yards and 28 touchdowns — averaging 225.8 yards per game. Viator said he’d certainly miss his gunslinger… Continue reading →

Southland Conference media days: did you hear that?

The most noteworthy quotes from Southland Conference media day: “I heard Les Miles hasn’t slept a wink since I was hired.” First-year Sam Houston State coach K.C. Keeler on what he’s expecting of the Bearkats’ Sept. 6 game at LSU “His mom called saying, ‘Where are you?’ He said,… Continue reading →

Wave assistant Strohm won’t maintain status

There’s going to be a shifting on the Tulane basketball bench this season. A Green Wave spokesman confirmed assistant coach Jeff Strohm will not be maintaining his position on Ed Conroy’s staff. “I was very pleased with my staff this season, but we are looking to shift things around,” Conroy said. “We are still evaluating what we are doing and will have it sorted out in the next few weeks.” Tulane has already… Continue reading →

Early slate will test Tech

IRVING, Texas — Louisiana Tech’s early schedule is absolutely brutal. The Bulldogs were 4-8 overall (3-5 Conference USA) in 2013, the first season under coach Skip Holtz. This season, they play four of their first five games against bowl teams from last season in Oklahoma, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, North Texas and Auburn. Not only were these teams a combined 41-12 last season, but each of these games will be away from Ruston,… Continue reading →

Holtz seeks more ways to use Dixon

Associated Press photo -- Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon, left, smiles during a playful interview by coach Skip Holtz at the Conference USA media day Wednesday in Irving, Texas.

IRVING, Texas — Skip Holtz is glad to have junior running back Kenneth Dixon, who missed three games last season with a knee injury, healthy for 2014. But the second-year Louisiana Tech coach would like to find more innovative ways to use Dixon, who rushed for 917 yards last season, within his offense. “We’ve got to get him more involved in the passing game, and we’ve got to build some more in our… Continue reading →

All-Conference USA preseason Offensive player of the year: Rakeem Cato, Sr., QB, Marshall Defensive player of the year: James Rouse, Sr., DL, Marshall Special teams player of the year: Hunter Mullins, Sr., P, UAB Offense QB: Rakeem Cato, Sr., Marshall RB: Kenneth Dixon,… Continue reading →

Louisiana Tech schedule Coach: Skip Holtz (4-8 one season, 92-79 overall) 2013 RECORD: 4-8 (3-5 Conference USA) Aug 30: at Oklahoma, 6 p.m. Sept. 7: at UL-Lafayette, 6 p.m. Sept. 11: at *North Texas, 7 p.m.… Continue reading →

Southeastern Louisiana gets nod in Southland preseason football polls

Southeastern Louisiana senior linebacker Isiah Corbett, coach Ron Roberts and senior quarterback Bryan Bennett at the Southland Conference media day at the L'auberge Resort in Lake Charles, La. (Pierce W. Huff, The Advocate)

LAKE CHARLES — To absolutely no one’s surprise, Southeastern Louisiana University was voted Wednesday to repeat as Southland Conference football champions by the league’s coaches and sports information directors. SLU, which returns 15 starters from a 2013 team that went 11-3 and claimed the SLC title with a 7-0 mark, was tabbed as the team to beat again when the league held its media day. The Lions also reached the quarterfinals of the Football Championship… Continue reading →

Sun Belt media day: Coaches laud the Cajuns’ chances

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- UL-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth speaks during Sun Belt Conference media day at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

The Sun Belt Conference’s football coaches aren’t ready to concede the title, but they certainly painted a Ragin’ Cajuns logo on the target Tuesday at the league’s media day. Louisiana-Lafayette was the unanimous pick in the preseason poll announced over the weekend, and the Cajuns’ status as runaway favorites for a second straight title — they shared last year’s with Arkansas State — was reinforced throughout Tuesday’s interview sessions. “They’ve got a lot of… Continue reading →

Lewis: Ragin’ Cajuns are mighty comfortable atop the Sun Belt

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- UL-Lafayette quarterback Terrance Broadway speaks during Sun Belt Conference media day at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

While all of the other Sun Belt Conference coaches in their media day interview sessions Tuesday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome sat at communal tables with a handful of chairs alongside, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth was at a head table facing several rows of chairs and at least a dozen TV cameras. With good reason. All of a sudden, the Ragin’ Cajuns have become the flagship program in the SBC — winners of three straight New Orleans Bowls,… Continue reading →